(courtesy of freegreatpicture.com)
4:13 am. The house is utterly silent but for the soft whir of the blower on the fireplace insert, pushing warm air into the room. I didn’t stoke the fire last night before going to bed (it was in the 50s outside and already 70 inside the house), so there was little to work with this morning but a few anemic coals. Still, give them a little paper and some kindling, and they get the job done. I’ll need to go out into the refrigerator chill of the garage soon to get more logs, but that chore can wait for a bit.
Lights on in the kitchen (that foolish overhead light that’s more murky than anything else) and in the dining room where I sit. The folks who sold us this house took the dining room chandelier with them. They purchased it on their honeymoon, something like 30 years ago, and have taken it with them everywhere they moved. Can’t say that I blame them. I wanted to take the one from our old house, got talked out of it by Ed and realtor, and then had a heck of a time finding one I liked. This one is pleasant, homey, a touch old-fashioned, probably not suited for a contemporary house, but I like it. It’s decked for the holiday with fake greenery and tiny colored glass balls. Looks nice.
The living room (easy to see from where I sit in this L-shaped open space) is lit only by Christmas tree lights (what my friend Pam calls ‘yites’). For years, we’ve vacillated between tiny white lights or tiny colored ones. Neither of us likes blinking lights, so that was an easy joint decision, but we could never decide on which sort of light works best. A few years back, we found some mid-sized bulbs, but they’re transparent and (frankly) hurt the eyes if you look at them for too long. This year, browsing in JobLot, I found the old-fashioned opaque colored lights and bought four strands. They look great. (Funny story about lights: My friend Phil is something of a hoarder. For years, he and his family decorated their Christmas tree with strands of lights that had belonged to his parents. (Keep in mind that Phil’s in his 70s.) Phil may not be old (I certainly don’t consider him such), but these lights definitely were. His wife Lorraine, with well-placed common sense, had suggested for years that they get new lights, but Old Mister Traditionalist nixed the notion every time…until the year I plugged them in to test them before putting them on the tree and there was a flash, a pop, a small flame, and the smell of charred wire. I looked up at him. “Think it’s time for new lights, Phil?” He shook his head. “We can still make them work.” “I am NOT putting those on that tree!” Lorraine, wise woman, ignored the argument, threw on her coat, and went out to buy new lights. Phil, in the end, grumpily acquiesced.)
I got a bit sidetracked there, but that’s life, isn’t it? Made up of moments. Most we hardly notice as they pass and many we cannot recall. Is that good or bad? It might help our brains and hearts to be more “in the now” than we typically are. We’re so wrapped up in where we’re headed next or where we’ve been that we forget to be where we are. I’m trying to be more mindful, but I’m no better at it than the next person. It takes something to catch my attention, to arrest movement even for a second, for me to pause and take the time to actually see the world around me. Maybe that’ll be my New Year’s resolution this season — to be present in my life.
Darkness looms beyond the windows. The cats, bellies full, snooze in the rocker and on the back of the couch. My tea mug is empty and my stomach is calling me toward the kitchen. Still, I’ll take a moment more to just be, to hear what there is to hear, see what there is to see, without the mental deluge of what’s to come. To find, in the whirl of time, a bit of peace.